Dialectics of game design

The game designers have only designed various games; the point is to design the world.

Gameplay is another name for politics. They both call for engagement. They are the same logic of opposing forces identified in separate contexts.

Gameplay is the dynamical aspect that discerns games from other imaginary and fictional media. It is grounded in the structural properties, the mechanics of a game, but it cannot be reduced to it. Thus, gameplay cannot be an academic research field, it is a praxis that unites its practice with its theory, its past with its future, its play with its design.

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Badiou on game design, part 1E: subjective and objective

(Intro: Dialectics of Game Design)

Symbolic is the space of places (splace), the structure of the gameworld, its mechanics, as they are before being played, in the box or loaded on the machine.

Imaginary is how, during a gameplay, a player puts her avatar on the foreground as opposed to a background that relies on the game’s structure positively or negatively, thus it is more or less the intended gameplay, or its extreme consequences, like heroic distruption of the gameworld caused by the game’s unbalance, the formal negativity.

Real is a player’s radical ability to destroy or reinvent the game’s structure during gameplay or as a game designer, it is the absolute negativity, the subjective (as opposed to symbolic and imaginary still being ‘objective’, relying on the gameworld) field where the player/designer in a way concentrates and purifies her gameplay, abstracting it from particular games, and becomes a real active force as subject to create the actually innovative.

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Badiou on game design, part 1D: hegel: ‘the activity of force is essentially the activity reacting against itself’

(Intro: Dialectics of Game Design)

In this part, Badiou focuses on correlation as the unity of opposites. The two dialectics of correlation are:

  • structural dialectics as an infinite vacillation between whole-part (splace-outplace),
  • historical dialectics involving force and activity that unites essence and existence in interior/exterior.

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Badiou on game design, part 1C: the real is the impasse of formalization; formalization is the place of the forced pass of the real

(Intro: Dialectics of Game Design)

“Dialectics states that there is the Two, and intends to infer the One from it as a moving division. Metaphysics posits the One, and forever gets tangled up in deriving from it the Two. There are others, like Deleuze, who posit the Multiple, which is never more than a semblance since positing the multiple amounts to presupposing the One as substance and excluding the Two from it. The ontology of the multiple is a veiled metaphysics.”

For the ‘dialectical game designer’, first comes the Two as the scission: Player/Avatar. From this, the One as a moving division (gameplay) is inferred.

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Badiou on game design, part 1B: action, manor of the subject

(Intro: Dialectics of Game Design)

In this part, Badiou translates his terms into Christianity.

Council of Nicea states that “The Son is consubstantial with The Father”. This is the scission Ap(AAp), the Incarnation. Then, Ap(A) designates the determination of the Father by the Son, his death, the Passion. A(Ap) designates the counter-determination (limit) by the Father on the son, his Ascension, Resurrection.

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Badiou on game design, part 1A: place of the subjective

(Intro: Dialectics of Game Design)

This is a reproduction of Badiou’s Theory of The Subject by replacing his political terms like “proletariat/modern revisionism/imperialist-bourgeois world” with game design terms like player/avatar/gameworld:

A player that exists in a game is already divided into player-as-such (A: the player) and player-in-place (Ap: the avatar).

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